Looking to the Greeks for insights into human nature

27 September 2012

jane Cook

Dr Jane Cook: Will graduate this month after a ten year journey of studying.

University of Waikato PhD student and feminist researcher Dr Jane Cook has been looking at Greek philosophy and mythology for insights into issues affecting human nature.

Jane is now a research associate in Philosophy and Gender Studies at the university, and began studying at Waikato University while living in Tauranga in 2001.

“I began studying through the University of Waikato campus in Tauranga, and then, after the first year, commuted to Hamilton. I majored in Philosophy, minoring in Psychology and Women’s and Gender Studies, and developed a strong interest in feminist philosophy during this time.”

After going to Auckland University to complete her honours degree, Jane received a doctoral scholarship from Waikato and returned to the university in 2008 to study for her PhD.

A ten year journey

It’s been a 10-year journey that will conclude when she graduates in October.

Her research focuses on the idea that, through their denial of an essence (or soul) to woman, the ancient Greek philosophers laid the foundation for a biased and therefore incorrect metaphysics which is disrupting the normal processes of self-development in all girls/women.

“Through its social and linguistic inscription onto sexual female bodies, this misconceived metaphysics is causing a fragmentation and loss of the real self in all girls or women. When a perfect, socially acceptable self cannot be reconstructed, this may lead to eating and associated disorders, as a purifying, desexualising means to make the bad-self good again.

“Through research into eating disorders, I conclude that what is currently seen and pathologised as mental disorder or disease, is actually an inner battle for survival of the essential female self. The cure, then, is not medication and immobilisation, but the philosophical and symbolic recognition and expression of what Plato and Aristotle denied: the real female essence.”

Continuing to research

Jane is now working as a registered psychotherapist and as a research associate for the university’s Philosophy and Gender Studies Department, which means she is able to practise and also continue to develop her theory.

“My goal is to continue testing and developing my PhD theory of human nature and development, which I hope may lead to a new, non-biased, fully inclusive model of human and non-human existence, and thus, the ultimate eradication of mental illness and disorder.”

She joins around 600 other students who graduate at Claudelands Events Centre on 17 October.

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